ACLA 2022 Call for Papers: The Novel from Land to Sea

Victoria Baena's picture
Call for Papers
October 1, 2021 to October 31, 2021
Subject Fields: 
Geography, Humanities, Languages, Literature

ACLA 2022 Seminar Proposal

In this seminar, we hope to rethink long-held associations between novel and nation-state in light of recent insights from oceanic studies, archipelagic studies, as well as transatlantic, transpacific, and Indian Ocean contexts. What kinds of genres and narrative frameworks unfold from a maritime, as opposed to land-based, perspective? How do novelists negotiate these commitments across multiple scales—and what ways of reading emerge by centering islands, coasts, ports, and other liminal spaces? In focusing on scales more limited than nation or globe, we take a cue from what Christopher Bush, in his 2015 ACLA State of the Discipline report, identified as a budding field of “critical regionalism”: that is, “new (or renewed) geographies that go beyond the nation but resist the centrifugal pull, the temptation, of ‘the world.’” 

We welcome literary-critical readings of specific texts, including those that draw on transatlantic studies, theories of the Black Atlantic, archipelagic studies, and maritime aesthetics as well as ecocritical and decolonial perspectives. We are equally interested in interdisciplinary approaches that draw from critical regionalism’s origins in the field of architectural studies. But we also hope to incite broader reflections, especially those that seek to chart the parameters of a comparative regionalism in novel studies - one based less on land than on sea. Following Françoise Lionnet, we are eager to trace “alternative genealogies of the novel” (“Shipwrecks, Slavery, and the Challenge of Global Comparison,” 447). How might such theories of the novel, in turn, help us think through the politics and poetics of the regional today?

Please feel free to contact the organizers (Victoria Baena,, and Kathleen DeGuzman, in advance with any questions or concerns. You can submit your proposal on the ACLA portal between October 1 and October 31:

Contact Info: 

Victoria Baena
PhD candidate, Department of Comparative Literature, Yale University
2022 Diamonstein-Spielvogel Post-Doctoral Fellow, New York Public Library

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